Police in Edo State on Saturday foiled an attempt by protesting youths to attack the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, in Benin.
Governor Godwin Obaseki and Oshiomhole have been locked in a bitter battle for the control of the state. Oshiomhole was in Benin for the burial of the mother of a leader of the party in the state, Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma.
The former governor of the state was about to enter his waiting car after his arrival at the Benin Airport when protesting youths forced their way into the airport, heading for the VIP area chanting war songs and booing him.
The police officers at the airport were forced to fire shots into the air after the protesters resisted their efforts to stop them.
After successfully dispersing the protesters, Oshiomhole’s convoy drove out of the airport under tight security.
Earlier in the day security at the airport was tight, with a police Armoured Personnel Carrier stationed close to the VIP area. There were also armed police officers and soldiers, as well as Department of State Services and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps at strategic locations around the airport.
However, the placard-carrying protesters started arriving at the airport around 2pm chanting anti-Oshiomhole slogans.
As soon as Oshiomhole arrived at the venue for the burial, the situation became rowdy as many of the guests struggled to get his attention with shouts of ‘Oshio and comrade.’
Henry Idahagbon, who served as Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice under the APC national chair, condemned the development and accused the state government of sponsoring the protest despite the Chief Bisi Akande reconciliation committee set up by the party to resolve the crisis in the state.
Idahagbon said, “They (protesters) were paid and sponsored by the state government. No right thinking Edo youth will boo Oshiomhole anywhere on Nigerian soil if they have not been paid to do so.
“It is unfortunate and it is not a sign of somebody who is ready for reconciliation. No right thinking Edo youth will allow themselves to be used for that kind of thing if not joblessness.”
But the Special Adviser to Governor on Media and Communication Strategy Crusoe Osagie in a statement denied the state government was behind the protest.
Osagie said, “It has come to our notice that Comrade Adams Oshiomhole arrived in Benin today and was booed by a crowd. We are not directly or remotely involved in the act. We condemn insinuations that the Edo State Government is in any way involved in such an act.”
He said the state government would continue to maintain law and order. Obaseki had warned Oshiomhole against flouting the ban on political rallies in the state.
His deputy, Philip Shiabu, late last year said Oshiomhole should always inform the state government whenever he is visiting the state.